The task force reportedly will focus on people law enforcement believes are gang members. A story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel does not explain how the task force arrives at the conclusion that a suspect is a gang member. Under California law, many offenses provide more severe sentences if prosecutors allege the offense was committed by an alleged gang member. Gang crimes in California can also lead to strikes under the California three strikes law.

The Santa Cruz task force reportedly plans initially to focus on alleged gang crimes in the South County. However, officials say the gang task force will also investigate alleged gang members in other areas of the county, including Santa Cruz, Live Oak and Soquel. Authorities claim they have identified as many as 19 gangs, each of which reportedly will receive task force scrutiny.

Officials have not disclosed the number of members will be included in the overall task force. Law enforcement says the gang task force reportedly will change in size, depending on the time of year and as the task force determines the need for additional officers.

District Attorney Bob Lee reportedly has said the task force will consolidate the gang experts in Santa Cruz County law enforcement to help facilitate prosecution of alleged gang members.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Santa Cruz County launches new gang task force," Stephen Baxter, Sept. 6, 2011